Joni Pitkanen

Joni Pitkanen returns from his concussion tonight

Joni Pitkanen’s long battle back from a concussion is at an end.

The Carolina Hurricanes activated Pitkanen from injured reserve and will have him back in the lineup tonight against the Florida Panthers. Pitkanen missed 44 games with a concussion and has been out since early December. As Hurricanes coach Kirk Muller tells Chip Alexander of the News & Observer, he’s more than happy to have him back.

“He’s ready to go,” Muller said after the morning skate. “I talked to him this morning and he feels good mentally, physically. He’s excited and it will be fun to get him back.”

As we’ve seen with concussion recovery all over the league, it makes everyone a little nervous to see them play that first game back but Muller says there won’t be any limits on his minutes. With the Hurricanes on the absolute fringes of the playoff picture, rounding out their defense with perhaps their best player makes for a nice boost. With rookie Justin Faulk doing a lot of the heavy lifting of late, Pitkanen’s return is a big lift for them.

Memorial Cup champion goalie Appleby signs with Devils

Ken Appleby
The Canadian Press via AP
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Ken Appleby never got drafted, but his efforts during the New Jersey Devils’ training camp have earned him an entry-level contract, per the Bergen Record.

Although no team saw it fit to take him before the preseason, the 20-year-old is coming off of a very strong season. He had a 2.08 GAA and .924 save percentage in 50 games with the OHL’s Oshawa Generals. He went on to lead them to a Memorial Cup championship and earned the the Hap Emms Memorial Trophy as the tournament’s top goalie.

Appleby is the fifth goaltender the Devils have under contract after Cory Schneider, Keith Kinkaid, Scott Wedgewood, and Yann Danis. He’ll likely begin the season in the ECHL.

Alexandre Goulet and Jacob Sweeney also participated in the Devils’ training camp on an amateur tryout basis, but both of them have been released.

PHT Morning Skate: NHL stars weigh in on McDavid

Connor McDavid
The Canadian Press via AP
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PHT’s Morning Skate takes a look around the world of hockey to see what’s happening and what we’ll be talking about around the NHL world and beyond.

Some of the NHL’s top players discuss Connor McDavid‘s potential and the hype surrounding him. (Toronto Sun)

While we’re on the subject, Wayne Gretzky recalls what it was like for him going into the NHL and what’s in store for McDavid. (Edmonton Sun)

Sam Gagner is about to start a key season in his career. (Philadelphia Inquirer)

It’s time for the Washington Capitals to make some tough calls, particularly when it comes to Derek Roy. (CSN Mid-Atlantic)

With Raffi Torres hearing scheduled for today, here’s a look back at his suspension history. (San Jose Mercury News)

The Chicago Blackhawks have gotten their championship rings. (